Smartphone app driving faster, more efficient emergency medical response

A smartphone app is helping an emergency medical response non-profit provide assistance in a faster and more efficient manner by using GPS technology to get the closest volunteer to a scene.

United Rescue, which has 50 volunteers and responds to medical emergency calls in Jersey City, New Jersey, can now get emergency responders at a location within three minutes, which is nearly half the time of the average ambulance service response, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

"It's really a matter of life and death," United Rescue Coordinator Paul Sosman told the WSJ. "If you can reduce the response time by 50 percent, statistically you'll have a much better chance of having a positive outcome."

The organization is using a smartphone app, built by NowForce, and spending about $2 million in its initial operating year to train its volunteer ranks and provide responders with medical equipment, including defibrillators. It's hoping to certify another 250 volunteers within the next 12 months and already boasts 1,000 applicant volunteers.

"You don't need an ambulance to save someone's life," Mark Gerson, chairman of United Rescue, told WSJ. "You need a trained and equipped responder."

Smartphones and mHealth apps are playing an increasingly important role in healthcare, from diagnosis to treatment to chronic care management. A new MarketsandMarkets report projects mHealth solutions will experience a 33.4 percent growth rate through 2020, which would put the market's value at $59.15 billion. Healthcare and fitness apps dominate the software market, claiming 33.7 percent market share as of 2014, according to the report.

The Houston Fire Department is tapping a video and data-sharing system to enhance emergency medical response, reduce unnecessary transports to hospital emergency departments and provide patients with primary care resources, according to a report in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services.

The United Rescue organization, founded on an emergency volunteer model used in Israel, is expected to cost about $750,000 annually. Supporters hope to expand the volunteer medical response approach nationwide.

"That was one big question that people would ask when we started: 'We know Israel has a volunteer culture. Will it also work in the U. S.?'" Gerson told the WSJ. "The answer is, overwhelmingly, yes."

For more information:
- read the Wall Street Journal article

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